As a Chicago-based Michigan fan, this was my first chance to see Manny & company in person. A couple things jumped out at me:
- We need to get Grady back in the mix, or some other ball-handler. Maybe even LLP could handle this. It's clear, however, that Lee cannot be trusted in late game situations under pressure. We also had a ton of turnovers in traffic in the paint in the first half. A legit ball-handler who can deliver a pass in traffic would do wonders for this offense. When Northwestern collapsed on defense, we couldn't make them pay because we kept losing the ball. Even when we managed to pass the ball out of congestion, the pass was often off-target. Their defense had the extra half-second it needed to recover, and our shooters couldn't catch and shoot in rhythm. I think poor passing to open shooters is a big reason why our 3PT% is so low this season. If anyone has highlights of the Duke/UCLA wins, I would be curious to see the quality of the passes that led to our made 3-pointers.
- We could use a Graham Brown. I know that this system prioritizes shooters, but we could really use a bruiser to rebound and set some tough screens. Is there anyone on our recruiting radar that weighs more than 220 pounds soaking wet? We had seats a few rows behind the Michigan bench, and Beilein was constantly screaming at the team to box out. Northwestern was a tall team, but they didn't have any gifted rebounders. Getting 15-20 minutes from one human wrecking ball with some infectiously physical play would have been helpful. Gibson didn't really get it done.
- The Maize Rage is traveling well. Keep up the good work.
- I didn't see a lot of the 1-3-1. I remember we went to it for one play (early in the second half?), got burned by a lob over the defense to Northwestern's lackluster, lifeless, gigantic center, and immediately abandoned it. Have we just totally given up on this defense, or was I not playing close enough attention?
- The officiating looked horrific in person. We didn't have the benefit of replay on a jumbrotron (because Northwestern's facilities are about the same quality as a 1970s-era health club), but a lot of the whistles on the perimiter seemed arbitrary and unnecessary. That changed towards the end of the game, when there were a handful of questionable no-calls that were totally inconsistent with how the game had been officiated to that point. Did the officiating look as erratic with the benefit of replays, multiple angles, and DVR?
- Finally: good God, please make Manny stay. Please. He could use another year in the weight room, and we could use another year of the give-it-to-Manny safety wheels on offense.